Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge

    Written 12/23/2017

      Cortland Street Bridge (1500 West; 1800 North) crosses the North Branch Chicago River four miles from the river mouth.  In total, there have been 5 bridges at this site.

     The current bridge opened on May 24, 1902.  It is a metal 14 panel rivet-connected Pratt through truss, movable double leaf bascule (fixed trunnion) and approach spans: metal stringer (multi beam); fixed.  There is one main span and four approach spans.  Main span length is 128 feet. Structure length is 217 feet.  Roadway width is 36 feet.  This bridge is unique because it was the very first Chicago style fixed trunnion bascule bridge.

     Bridge was designed by the Division of Bridges and Viaducts City of Chicago.  Superstructure Contractor was the American Bridge Company of New York.  Substructure Contractor was FitzSimons and Connell.  Construction costs were $159,911.

  During the years the bridge has undergone many repairs and modifications. 

     Included were:

1923 floor replaced, buffers replaced, bridge redecked.

1951 street car rails and old timber deck removed.  Floor beams and almost all stringers replaced.  Several truss members and gusset plates replaced.  Approach roadways were rebuilt.

1968 Bridge was redecked with open grate steel deck.

1990 Bridge was converted to a fixed span. Operating equipment was incapacitated.

1997  Bridge superstructure and roadbed was completely restored and repainted.


Cortland Street Bridge

     The first Cortland Street Bridge was built before 1849.  Its location was  called Clybourn Place.  It was a wood bent bridge.  It was constructed as follows.  Four large logs were sunk into the river bed 20 to 30 feet apart.  Long stringers were laid in pairs to connect the bent with the shore.  Framework supported timber roadway was laid across the stringers.  No information is available about the designer, contractor or the cost.   Bridge was removed in 1859.


Cortland Street Bridge

     The second bridge at this.location opened in September, 1859.  Like its predecessor, it was a fixed wood bent bridge.  Like its predecessor, its designer, builder or the construction costs are unknown.  There was controversy about this bridge from the beginning.  Local residents wanted a movable bridge.  It was removed on April 28, 1862.

     The third bridge at Cortland Street opened in 1862.  It was a wood pivot hand operated bridge.  It was 100 feet in length.  It was designed and constructed by Fox and Howard.  Construction cost was $2000.  It was removed in 1873.


Cortland Street Bridge

     The fourth bridge was built in 1873. It was a wood swing hand operated bridge. It was 140 feet long and 32 feet wide. 

    The bridge was designed and constructed by Fox and Howard.  Construction costs were $13,700.

  In December, 1900, FitzSimons and Connell began removal of the bridge.  The superstructure, center pier, and abutments were removed.  Project was completed on January 1, 1901.


Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


North Branch of the Chicago River from the Cortland Avenue Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


Bridge Tender House Cortland Avenue Bridge


Same as above


Bridge Tender  House  Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge


Cortland Street Bridge

Bridge Inspection Current Bridge 9/2011

Deck.                                Condition.                Rating     Good     7 out of 9

Superstructure.            Condition.                Rating.     Poor.     4 out of 9

Substructure.                Condition.                Rating.      Fair.      5 out of 9

Sufficiency Rating. 35.6 out of 100

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